August 3, 2004 > Patch it up!
Patch it up!
Mission San Jose Hosts First Outdoor Quilt Show
by Praveena Raman
For many years Fremont resident Sandra Jorgenson has been visiting Sisters, Oregon during their annual Giant Outdoor Quilt Show. She enjoyed the beautiful colorful quilts and the atmosphere of the outdoor display always made her very happy. As an avid quilter, she thought it would be wonderful to have a similar show locally. During a conversation with Connie Andrade of Village Treasures, she mentioned her idea and Connie in turn, presented it to the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce. With the Chamber's backing, Sandra decided to celebrate her 50th birthday by organizing an outdoor quilt show in Mission San Jose this year on August 28th.
The quaint and historical environment of Mission San Jose is a perfect setting for a quilt show. The Mission's extension, which houses its museum, makes it a perfect backdrop for exhibiting the quilts since quilting is an integral part of American history. Early pioneers brought with them the skills and know-how to make whole cloth quilts. The beauty of these solid white or colored quilts came from the elaborate, closely quilted designs that gave each piece texture and shadows. These, in time, gave way to the patchwork quilts that are presently popular. In the early days, quilts were made to serve a utilitarian purpose - to keep people warm. Currently quilting is enjoying a revival as an art form. People have started using beautiful colorful quilts as wall hangings in addition to bed covers.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a quilt is a bed-covering made of padding enclosed between layers of cloth kept in place by cross lines of stitching. In reality a quilt is much more. It has served as a mode of communication, problem solving and self-expression. Sandra comments that, "There are different stories associated with quilts throughout history. The book Hidden in Plain View talks about how women used the different squares on the quilts to pass messages to the slaves in the Underground Railroad." Also many stories and legends speak about communities coming together to solve problems through quilting. The story Shota and the Star Quilt is about a Native American girl who brings her apartment building neighbors together to solve a problem. They create a beautiful quilt with a message to a rich man intent on buying their homes.
Similarly, people create quilts describing the city or neighborhood where they live. Recently a quilt "Many Neighborhoods, One City" was created by the Piecemakers Quilt Guild and the Girl Scouts for the City of Fremont. This quilt depicts the map of Fremont with its 28 neighborhoods. The qualities of each neighborhood were represented in the fabric and icons stitched in the background. The border was stitched with a fabric that included Fremontia flowers. As part of the Community Engagement Initiative this quilt sent a message of neighbors coming together to celebrate their individual talents and their collective strength and unity. This quilt will be on display at the outdoor quilt show.
Quilts have also been made and passed down through generations telling families stories about their forefathers. Patricia Polacco's quilt in "The Keeping Quilt" describes her family and talks about their personal triumphs, disappointments, and an ever-powerful love across six generations. Sandra Jorgenson has a number of quilts passed from generation to generation, with stories about their love, triumphs, struggles and disappointments. "I even have a family quilt from the 1800s," she says with a smile. "It used to always be on my aunt's bed. It is still in very good condition considering how old it is." Sandra has also been making a lot of quilts and keeping them for her children.
Often quilts are made as a means of self-expression, like the AIDS quilt or those inspired by 9/11. Marsha Squires, the featured artist of Mission's outdoor quilt show not only expresses herself through her quilts, but also teaches quilting as a way to stimulate and nurture creativity, easing through life's transitions. In fact, she started quilting when she was going through a difficult phase in her life. Her oldest child was graduating from school and "I was going through the empty nest syndrome earlier than normal," she laughs. "It was Sandra who helped me. She decided that I should start quilting and introduced me to a group of quilters." The rest is history. Marsha, who used to sew, found a healing quality to make quilts. She had always admired Sandra's quilts in progress when they both attended their children's track meets and soccer games. She credits Sandra as being her mentor. In May of 2004 Marsha had a successful show at a Berkeley gallery called New Pieces.
Sandra is very excited that Marsha had agreed to be the featured artist for this show. Besides Marsha, Jean Wells, who organizes the Giant Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon, will be sending a few of her quilts to be exhibited at the local event. "I can't thank Mission's Chamber of Commerce enough," adds Sandra. "They have taken care of all the paperwork, getting permits and so on. I am only getting the quilters and the quilts." She also has a lot of support from various people in the community like Gael Stewart of Mission Coffee and the Dominican Nuns. The Piecemakers Quilt Guild has donated many of the quilt stands and Brewer Notion Company, One Quilt at a Time (Newark) and Quilter's Inn (Danville) have made monetary donations towards the show.
The quilts will be exhibited for one day in front of all the businesses and Mission San Jose. The show is being organized as an art exhibition so people can come and see the variety of quilts designs and colors and have a good time. "It is a Show for the Soul," bursts out Sandra. "I want it to be a beautiful day. I would like people to come and see that there are many types of quilts, the differences between the traditional and the contemporary quilts. I would like them to see the vibrant colors and feel happy." It is a day for all to come together and have a good time.
Mission's First Annual Outdoor Quilt Show will take place on Saturday, August 28th, 2004 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the historic Mission San Jose district located along Mission Blvd. If you are a quilter, collect quilts or have a special quilt and would like to be a part of this history-making event in Fremont, send in your registration by August 10th. The first 200 entries will be accepted into the show. Additional entries may be accepted on a space available basis. If for any reason an entry cannot be displayed the entrant will be notified by phone on or before August 15, 2004.
All entries must be made of fabric, in good condition and quilted by hand, machine or both. Each quilt must have a fabric label stitched to the back of each quilt, at or near a bottom corner. The label should include the quilt title and the exhibitor's name. Not more than 2 quilts per quilter may be entered it he show. The entry form must include the names of everyone who has stitched on the quilt. Quilts may be photographed by show attendees and the media, but may not be used for commercial purposes.
Submission of a quilt to the Mission San Jose Outdoor Quilt Show constitutes permission by the quilter/owner to allow it to be photographed. There is a ten-dollar entry fee for submitting a quilt for display. Quilts may be dropped off by August 10th to Village Treasures, 43393 Mission Blvd., during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Entrants will be issued a claim check, which must be presented when picking up the item. Submitted quilts should be received in a clear plastic bag and the quilts folded such that the identification label is visible. A photo of the submitted item is also needed for identification with the completed entry form.
Many volunteers are also needed for the success of the show. Community members wishing to assist as volunteers can get more information by visiting www.msjchamber.org or calling (510) - 873-7701. Registration brochures can also be obtained by the visiting the Chamber's website or by calling the number given above.
Books on or about quilts in the Alameda County Library:
The library has more than 200 books on quilts. The titles given below are favorites of this reporter or have been mentioned to her by acquaintances. The first 6 titles are authored by Jean Wells who's Giant Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon is the inspiration behind Mission's First Annual Outdoor Quilt Show. If you have a favorite quilt story book or a must read book on quilts, submit the title and author's name with a paragraph describing the book to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday August 13th and we will publish (space permitting) in the next issue of Tri-City Voice. Some of the entries might also be published after the show.
Patchwork quilts made easy [videorecording] / with Jean Wells; Lafayette, CA : C&T Pub., c1996
Along the Garden Path: More Quilters and their Gardens / Jean & Valori Wells; Lafayette, Calif.: C&T Pub., 2001
Everything flowers: Quilts from the Garden / Jean & Valori Wells; Lafayette, Calif.: C&T, c1996
Garden-inspired quilts: design journals for 12 quilt projects / Jean & Valori Wells; photography by Valori Wells; Lafayette, Ca.: C&T Pub., c2002
Memorabilia Quilting: Quilts, Clothing, Adornments / by Jean Wells; Lafayette, Calif.: C&T Publishing, c1992
Patchwork quilts made easy: make a quilt you can be proud of in just three days! / Jean Wells; Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Press; [New York] : Distributed in the book trade by St. Martin's Press, 1994
Hidden in plain view: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad / Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard; New York: Doubleday, 1999
The Patchwork Quilt / by Valerie Flournoy; pictures by Jerry Pinkney; New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, c1985
Shota and the Star Quilt / written by Margaret Bateson-Hill; illustrated by Christine Fowler; Lakota text by Philomine Lakota; New York, NY: Zero to Ten Unlimited, 1998
The keeping quilt / Patricia Polacco; New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1998
The quiltmaker's gift / story by Jeff Brumbeau; pictures by Gail De Marcken; Duluth, Minn. : Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers, c2000
The Josefina story quilt / by Eleanor Coerr; pictures by Bruce Degen; New York: Harper & Row, c1986
The quilt-block history of pioneer days: with projects kids can make / by Mary Cobb; illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis; Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, c1995